Michael Nutter

City Council Kills Philly's $1.86B Plan to Privatize PGW

Philadelphia City Council members effectively killed the proposed sale of the city's gas utility to a Connecticut firm.

The deal required City Council approval. But council President Darrell Clarke says there are "no appetites" for the proposed $1.86 billion sale of Philadelphia Gas Works to UIL Holdings Corp.

“We came to the conclusion that we could not endorse the deal as proposed,” said Clarke.

Mayor Michael Nutter didn't mince words while expressing his displeasure at council nixing the deal.

"I think what we heard and what we saw today is, quite possibly, the biggest cop-out that we've seen in recent legislative history in Philadelphia," said Nutter.

Nutter said in March that the sale would inject $424 million into the city's distressed pension fund, freezing rates for three years and maintaining low-income and senior discount programs while safeguarding pensions.

Union leaders and several environmental organizations opposed the idea.

Over the summer, UIL had the chance to walk away from its proposed purchase of PGW since Philadelphia City Council did not take action on the deal.

But the company remained committed to privatizing PGW.

"UIL remains ready to assist council in its assessment of the sale including the essential public dialogue of what we believe is a valuable economic opportunity for the City of Philadelphia," said James Torgenson, president and CEO of UIL, in July.

Currently Philadelphia is the largest American city to own a gas utility. After owning the utility company for generations, the city reached a sale agreement with UIL last March.

The city launched a website www.exploringasale.com to answer any questions about the deal.

Council said that questions about job security and UIL's intentions to fix infrastructure caused them to reject the deal.

PGW traces its history to 1836. It is the nation's largest city-owned gas utility with more than half a million customers and more than 1,600 employees.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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